Des Moines City Council members flouted gender balance requirement

Two Des Moines City Council members seeking re-election on November 5 used their appointment powers to perpetuate a gender imbalance on a key board in the state’s largest city, despite a state law requiring certain local boards to have no more than a simple majority of male or female members.

Joe Gatto, who represents Ward 4, and Linda Westergaard (Ward 2) both named men to fill vacancies on the Des Moines Plan and Zoning Commission when state law indicated a woman should have been appointed. Gatto has done so twice. The second time, his choice worsened the commission’s imbalance and happened well before the end of a statutory period during which officials are supposed to make a “good faith effort” to find someone from the underrepresented gender.

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Why Mayor Pete will make LGBTQ youth safe

Nate Monson: “When Pete talks about his plans and vision for our country, I see four years of hope for a more united country where everyone can be part of the solution to our nation’s most urgent challenges.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Since 2007, I have served as the Executive Director for Iowa Safe Schools, one of the largest statewide LGBTQ organizations in the country. Our job is to create safe and supportive schools and communities for LGBTQ youth through education, advocacy, outreach, and direct services.

I believe every single candidate running on the Democratic side supports equality without question. But when I look at the 2020 field, only one candidate is working to build a culture of belonging in this country and that is Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Five thoughts about Linda Upmeyer's tenure as Iowa House speaker

Iowa House Republicans meet in Des Moines this morning to elect new leaders for the 2020 legislative session. Linda Upmeyer announced on September 30 that she will step down as House speaker when the legislature reconvenes in January and will not seek re-election next November. She said in a written statement that she wants to spend more time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Speaking to WHO Radio’s Jeff Angelo on October 1, Upmeyer said she was also influenced by her predecessor Kraig Paulsen’s decision to leave the post long before an election. A new speaker is “well-served” by having a session under their belt, which helps them with fundraising and recruiting candidates, she explained. “I wanted to make sure that whoever was going to be leading the caucus in the future had those tools at their disposal going into this next election.”

Sources close to the legislature indicate that current House Appropriations Committee chair Pat Grassley is likely to become the next speaker, with Matt Windschitl moving up from House speaker pro-tem to majority leader. Current Majority Leader Chris Hagenow may not be part of the new leadership team, for reasons that remain unclear. UPDATE: The caucus selected Grassley as speaker, Windschitl as majority leader, and State Representative John Wills as speaker pro tem.

I’ve been thinking about Upmeyer’s legacy and how she influenced the chamber.

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Iowa governor's already denied ten AG requests to join national cases

Less than four months after persuading Attorney General Tom Miller to cede some of his power to her, Governor Kim Reynolds has already denied ten requests to sign Iowa on to multi-state legal actions related to federal or state policies on gun safety, immigration, environmental regulation, and reproductive or LGBTQ rights.

During the same time frame, Reynolds has approved five requests to join multi-state efforts on consumer protection, drug policy, or to help Iowa obtain a share of negotiated settlements.

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Kamala Harris still owes us an apology

Elizabeth Behre is a wife, mother, transgender woman, and medical student in Des Moines. She submitted this post with the subtitle, “An open letter to a presidential candidate who completely missed the mark when trying to atone for past sins.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Dear Senator Harris,

I’m not sure you realize this, which is both worrisome and a little bit scary, but you still owe the transgender community an apology.

Confused as to why? Well please, let me explain.

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Solutions to bullying needed now

Iowa Safe Schools executive director Nate Monson has been hearing more reports of bullying incidents in Iowa schools since the 2016 election. -promoted by Laura Belin

The end of August means the start of another school year. For many students, it is a time of reconnecting with their peers, teachers, and engaging in the educational process.

But for some students, school can be a terrifying experience because of bullying.

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